He Was Just Passing Through

“People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do.” 

Normally we hold three church services each Sunday.  The spoken service begins at 8:00 AM.  The liturgy is identical to the 10:30 service, except there is no music.  Some think of it as the express service; morning prayer, a sermon and communion, all in 45 minutes.  The Rise and Shine service begins at 9:00 and is designed for young families.  Age appropriate church and love- themed songs are sung, accompanied by rhythm instruments in a freestyle way.  Echo-prayers, bells, sea shells and pictures help us through the liturgy, and children and parents fully participate in the service. The 10:30 service is a traditional Anglican mass with music.  The powerful organ and talented voices of the choir fill the sanctuary with music designed to enhance the worship experience.  A sermon and celebration of the Eucharist completes the service.  Today we celebrated!  We brought the three services together at 9:00, but it was bittersweet, as our celebration marked the final service being led by our interim rector, Father Doug.

I met him a little over a year ago at a diner adjacent to a local airfield.  I felt an immediate connection to this man.  Perhaps it was our love/hate relationship with the Phillies, but later I would find out it was something much more personal.  Father Doug had recently retired from another parish, had a few good sermons left in him and coming to our Church would be a kind of homecoming, so he agreed to serve in an interim capacity while we completed the search for a new full-time rector.

Have you ever wondered why people come into your life?  Some will say it is fate.  We cross paths with someone because we were destined to do so.  Others believe it is part of a grander plan, that God has set us on a path and those whom we encounter are part of our planned earthly experience.  I like a third possibility that is personally more meaningful, especially in light of Father Doug’s departure; people come into our life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

When people come into our life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need.  Sometimes that need has been expressed and we understand their presence.  However there are times that it is only after their departure that we come to understand the reason for their presence, for it was their presence that led us to discover a deeper need.  What is important to remember however is this, people who come into our lives for a reason have come to assist us through a difficulty; to provide us with guidance and support; to aid us physically, emotionally or spiritually.  They may seem like a godsend, and they are.

The weather has four seasons, but in our lives there are dozens of different seasons, and every season of life includes both good and bad times.  When people come into our life for a SEASON, it is often because of pain, love or despair.  It becomes our season to heal, grow or learn.  They often bring an experience of peace or make us laugh.  They may teach us a new skill, help us recognize our untapped potential, or help us overcome our fear of taking risks and stepping out of our comfort zones.  This period will bring us an incredible amount of joy and wisdom, but sadly these relationships are seasonal and will come to an end (“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven”.)

And then there are those who come into our lives for a LIFETIME.  It is through these relationships that we learn the lifetime lessons; those upon which we build our lives.  Our challenge is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what we have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of our life.  Those who come into our life for a lifetime never leave us, Their thoughts, words and love remain with us forever.

Remember the connection I spoke of when I first met Father Doug?  It wasn’t until a few months into his tenure when we were having breakfast one morning that I realized he had conducted my father’s funeral in the absence of our previous rector.  Eleven years ago he came into my life for a season, one year ago he came for a reason and he will remain in my life for a lifetime.

Every person who crosses our path is important in his/her own way. However our challenge is to understand the reason why someone is in our life and the impact they have on us.  Are they present to remind us, to console us, to awaken us, to encourage us?  Only when we understand the answers to those questions will we be ready to become the person who enters someone else’s life for a reason, season or lifetime.